Bombast Field Ordnance Battery – Artillery Astra Militarum 10th Edition Tactics
Let us take a deep dive into the Field Ordnance Battery & Astra Militarum Artillery.
I wanted to talk about the Bombast Field Ordnance Battery because they’re a new unit, and there appear to be a lot of questions about them and their use on the battlefield.
If I have missed something or made a mistake, please message me on… Instagram, Twitter, Reddit or Facebook.
You should check out my Astra Militarum Getting Started Guide for 10th Edition if you are new.
The Combat Patrol box includes the Field Ordnance Battery, so many new players will have this unit.
It is also a new unit, so there is a desire to own it for its newness.
The Bombast Cannon is not the Astra Militarum’s most outstanding unit. They are a joy to build and paint, though. Here are my Field Ordnance Batteries.
Expect a future article on the other two Field Ordnance Battery weapons: Malleus Rocket Launcher and Heavy Lascannon.
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The Astra Militarum’s Artillery suffers from being over-costed, relying on Indirect Fire and being expensive to buff and make effective. In this article, I will look at the following units to see how each performs against common targets;
- Bombast Cannon
Field Ordnance Battery Rules
Bombast – Astra Militarum 10th Edition Tactics
The reasons for their poor performance come in several parts;
This issue compounds into all the others. A strong unit can survive to get in multiple shooting rounds, hold an objective, or be annoying.
If it’s weak and cannot become more durable, your opponent will easily remove it from the game.
Yes, they can be brought back for 2CP using the Reinforcements Stratagem. But they’ll count as moved when they come back on. And that’s 2CP you’re using on the Field Ordnance Battery and not something else, such as a 20-man infantry unit or three Sentinels.
The only defensive bonus they can get is the Take Cover order. That gives them a 3+ save, or putting them in cover for a 3+ save. There is also the Go to Ground Stratagem for 1CP, which gives the unit the Benefit of Cover and a 6+ Inv Save.
The Bombast has the Indirect rule. You don’t have to fire them using this rule; you can fire them at visible units, which removes this indirect issue altogether.
But, because they’re weak, they need to be hidden at the back of your deployment zone, so indirect fire is often the only way to fire them.
Firing indirectly gives the enemy unit the Benefit of Cover and provides the weapon with a -1 to Hit.
The benefit of cover can be undone by increasing the AP of the weapon either through the Leman Russ Exterminator or using the Fields of Fire Stratagem.
The -1 to Hit can be undone and then improved via the Take Aim order and Remaining Stationary to get a +1 to Hit because the weapon is Heavy. Or by using a Scout Sentinel’s Daring Recon ability to remove the -1 to Hit altogether.
All of the above options help the performance of the Field Ordnance Battery, except for Remaining Stationary, which requires points to be spent on supporting units or Command Points.
The Field Ordnance Battery, unfortunately, saw a points increase early in Warhammer 40K 10th Edition due to their and other indirect weapons being used a lot. And to good effect, especially with Heavy, Take Aim and a Scout Sentinel.
With that combo, you could be hitting on a 3+ and re-rolling ones to hit.
The points cost increase was for all weapons systems, even the Heavy Lascannon, which doesn’t have the indirect rule. They went from 100 to 120 points.
With this increase, a unit of two Field Ordnance Battery models doing the above combo would cost;
- 60 points Command Squad, for the Take Aim order
- 60 points Scout Sentinel, for Daring Recon
- 120 points for the Field Ordnance Battery
That’s 240 points for a unit whose shooting is mediocre (we’ll come to this) and isn’t durable.
Poor Performing Weapons
Anything a Field Ordnance Battery can do, something else can do better and for a comparable points cost.
This is the main issue. Their weapons do not perform well, and other units available to the Astra Militarum can kill more efficiently and are more durable.
Let’s take a deeper look.
All of the below is taken throughout a whole game, 5 Battle Rounds. It exaggerates the results so you can more clearly see the damage output of a weapon throughout a battle.
All stats are average, e.g. for a D6 shot Bombast Cannon, the average number of shots is 3.5. You could roll hot and get 6 shots, but equally, you could roll cold and get one shot. So, I have used the average for all of the below.
The same is valid for hit rolls. If the roll to hit is 4+, the average number of hits is 50%.
All stats are based on attacking a Primaris Space Marine:
- 5 Models (+1 for Blast)
- 2 Wounds
- Toughness 4
- 3+ Save
All the maths for the below examples can be found on this Google Sheet.
Remaining Stationary, Lethal Hits, Take Aim, Sustained Hits & Daring Recon
I have added Sustained Hits because all Field Ordnance Battery units get this when under the influence of an Order. And Remaining Stationary also results in us getting Lethal Hits.
- 240 points
- Shots 45
- Roll to Hit 3+ (Heavy & Daring Recon & Stationary & Take Aim)
- Hits 43.74 (Sustained Hits)
- Wounds 32.05 (AP- due to Cover & Lethal Hits)
- Failed Saves 10.68
- Dead Models 10
At 2 Damage, each failed save kills a Primaris Marine.
As you can see, throughout the game, this group of units worth 240 points will kill, on average, 10 Primaris Space Marines.
At 19 points for an Intercessor, 190 points in total, there is not a great return for an investment of 240 points that is weak and easily disrupted.
This does not consider the killing power of the Ordering Unit (almost nil) and the Scout Sentinel (a little). It also assumes all the models survive for the whole game. As soon as a Field Ordnance Battery model is killed, the ordering unit is destroyed, or the Scout Sentinel is lost, the damage output of this unit will be even lower.
A stationary, unsupported unit of Bombast Cannons kills 4 Marines throughout a whole game. That is over a 50% loss in damage output.
So losing a Scout Sentinel or Officer is going to have a dramatic impact on their ability to make a positive impact on a game.
Hopefully, you can see here the issue with the Bombast Cannon. It needs many supporting units and layers of buffs to get even a mediocre performance from this unit.
Let us look at some alternatives…
Remaining Stationary, Lethal Hits
Let us look at the Basilisk’s Earthshaker Cannon.
- 135 points
- Shots 37.5
- Roll to Hit 4+ (Heavy & Indirect)
- Hits 18.75
- Wounds 16.67 (AP-1 because of Cover & Lethal Hits)
- Failed Saves 8.33
- Dead Models 8
Those 8 dead Marines are fewer than the 10 Marines from the Bombast Cannon.
But the Basilisk is fewer points overall because it requires no supporting units to kill those Marines. It does not require an ordering unit or the Scout Sentinel.
Do not forget its Earthshaker Rounds ability. Units that are hit are moving slower and will be less effective. Something the Bombast lacks.
The Basilisk also has a similar footprint to the two Field Battery Models and the accompanying Officer to order them. You cannot hide the Scout Sentinel because it needs line-of-sight to the enemy to use its Daring Recon ability.
While the Basilisk is not a game changer, it appears comparable to the Bombast Cannons; it is cheaper, more durable and easier to use. It requires no order or a Scout Sentinel.
You could even take two Basilisks for 270 points, slightly more than the combo above of Officer + Bombast Cannon + Scout Sentinel.
That gives you 16 dead Primaries Marines on average, two vehicles with 11 Wounds each at Toughness 9 and a 3+ Save.
This is a lot more durable than the Field Ordnance Batteries.
Remaining Stationary, Lethal Hits, Re-Rolling Hits
The Manticore costs more points, but it performs well.
- 150 points
- Shots 27.5
- Roll to Hit 4+ (Heavy & Indirect)
- Hits 20.63 (Re-Rolling Hits)
- Wounds 16.04 (AP-1 because of Cover & Lethal Hits)
- Failed Saves 8.02
- Dead Models 8
8 dead Primaris models. Having extra damage also means removing those elite infantry models, such as Eradicators, is better.
And the Manticore is Toughness 10.
Remaining Stationary, Lethal Hits, Sustained Hits, Twin-Linked
- 110 points
- Shots 40
- Roll to Hit 4+ (Heavy & Indirect)
- Hits 20 (Sustained Hits)
- Wounds 18.51 (Twin-Linked & Ignores Cover)
- Failed Saves 6.17
- Dead Models 6
A poor performance here from the WYvern, but that is because Primaris Marines are not a good target for the Wyvern.
Do not forget its Suppression Bombardment ability. So, while it kills fewer Marines, the units that are hit are less effective. Something, again, the Bombast lacks.
If we switch its target to Guardsmen, or equivalent, with a unit size of 10 models, 1 Wound, and Toughness 3 with a Save of 5+, we get 13 dead models throughout a battle.
At 110 points, though, you can take two and have points left over compared to the Officer + Field Ordnance Battery + Scout Sentinel combo.
That would give you 12 dead Primaris Marines or 26 Guardsmen equivalent type models destroyed throughout the battle.
- Bombast – 10 destroyed models per game
- Basilisk – 8 destroyed models per game
- Manticore – 8 destroyed models per game
- Wyvern – 6 destroyed models per game
And here we have the PCPD, which I just invented, but I am called Points Cost Per Death;
- Bombast – 24 PCPD
- Basilisk – 16.88 PCPD
- Manticore – 18.75 PCPD
- Wyvern – 18.33 PCPD
While writing this article, I have taught myself that Astra Militarum artillery is not in a good place.
None of the above examples are great units for removing Primaris Marines or any form of Elite Infantry. Which really should be the primary role of these artillery pieces.
The Bombast Cannon, for example, is the best performer with 10 dead models, with all its buffs in place. But there are several issues;
- High points cost
- Not durable
- Multiple points of failure: Field Ordnance Battery death, Officer death, Scout Sentinel vision and death
I do not doubt that it can perform and that when you roll a high number of shots for repeated turns, it will kill things. But, equally, you could roll low and get 1 shot plus 1 for Blast against 5 models, then kill nothing for repeated turns.
I have taken zero artillery in my last two games vs GSC and Iron Hands – both wins and not taking artillery is a trend I aim to continue.